economies of scale

Thinking about economy.  Economy (thrift) as well as “the economy”, this intangible entity that has taken over the collective psyche.  Eikos, the Greek root, means home. Economy is the affairs of the home, the household.  Our national house is in a bad way, and the cob-job deal pushed through by these transparent Republican mouthpieces for their corporate overlords is not good.  I’m glad my food stamps won’t run out tomorrow, and glad  my grandmother and hundreds of thousands of other people’s grandmothers won’t stop getting their social security checks, but otherwise the damned Tea Party got exactly what it asked for.  (Note: Jefferson, Franklin, Adams, all the founders whom the tea party is constantly claiming as their own, all objected to a two-party system.  I forget which one of venerable fathers called it “the death of democracy,” possibly Jefferson).

Back to economy.  I’ve been a thrifty person for a long time, years of thrift in fact, and it’s more than a point of pride.  It’s my modus operandi.  Though it is occasionally necessary to drop twenty or thirty joyless dollars for a new coffeepot or decent pair of shoes, going into a box store and buying a box of something with a plastic rectangle brings me no joy, much less satisfaction.  Selling some junk on eBay and then bidding on a coffeepot or decent pair of shoes is slightly better, but the best of all are the garage sales and the dumpsters.  Just as there are too many people in the world, there are also too many things, and these things get put on curbs or sold cheaply in garages and yards across America.  More often than not, if I ask the universe for something small and reasonable and necessary to my little life, I wait a while and it appears.  Here’s a minor list of things I have found/been given by strangers or housemates/bartered for/paid less than $5 at garage sale or thrift store for (all in good, working order) in the last year or so:

a stereo in good shape with tape deck, radio, CD player & phonograph; a toaster; expensive exercise clothing, needing only a good wash cycle; a slew of planters in many sizes—ceramic, woven mat and plastic—for my gardens;  various fabrics & buttons; fine old leather boots; newspapers & firewood for the fireplace (all found discarded around the apartment complex); a cat house/scratching post thing that my cats like quite a bit; a bamboo end table;  a giant leafy house plant; and  I guess the dandelions I picked from behind the apartment complex also count, as I made them into dandelion wine.

This is only a partial list, what I saw in one quick look around my apartment.  The point is, I find what I need cheaply or free (without calling myself a freegan or a dumpster diver or even a bargain hunter) because I enjoy the hunt, and also because I’m broke.  Some people make this process political, some people are ashamed of it, some people do it in groups.  I don’t have a method, I just keep my eyes open when I’m walking or driving around, especially in neighborhoods that hold a lot of garage sales.  It’s been harder to find good curbside hauls in Colorado than anywhere I’ve lived on the east coast; I wonder if this is because more people here subscribe to the same philosophy I do? Or maybe they just accumulate less stuff than the east coast folks I’ve known?  Hard to say.  This is an impartial observation, no more, no less: east coast people put more books out on the curb than Coloradans. I don’t know if they read more or less, or if Coloradans donate their books to schools and libraries, this is just the account of a continual trash-picker, transplanted a few thousand miles west.

What all this has to do with our national economy, well, probably nothing, except that I wish the spirit of thrift could be somehow better ingrained in our government.  What gets cut, what’s about to be cut in the Republicans’ plan, is not thrifty, it’s short-sighted and mean  (education, health care, anything that makes poor people and the middle class live better).  Gutting public health & safety programs and education has always seemed extremely financially unsavvy to me, as the problems that result from such reckless redlining cost much more later on.  Thrift of words in political rhetoric would be appreciated, particularly when Fox News is involved.  I don’t know, maybe I have no right to question this system, as my own personal economy is in shambles.  I’m unemployed and staring down almost a hundred grand in student loans.   But still I find what I need and keep working on my own creative projects, keep moving forward (I hate that phrase, but nothing else fits at the moment), and keep my eikos in some kind of order. And, dammit, the college business in America is broken and destroys lives; what was I supposed to do, skip college and teach myself literature and rhetoric? It’s the only thing I’m good at! Anyway, if anyone’s reading this, senator or janitor, let it be known you can survive unemployed (without children); it just takes a shift in thinking, away from consuming and towards reusing, re-appropriating, re-making.  And also, of course, food stamps.  Stay away from my dinner, GOP. I’ve helped pay for yours.


About emvlovely

Oh, I live in an RV. I write poems, essays and prose. Thanks for reading my blog, good health to you!
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2 Responses to economies of scale

  1. Paul Cashman says:

    The founding fathers (plus other ones, most notably Washington, Madison, and Hamilton) didn’t like the concept of political parties, period (they called it “faction”). In their collective view, men imbued with civic virtue would do the right thing. Factions were collections of men who (as in Britain) connived together to maintain their own privileges.

    Hardly had Washington brought Jefferson and Hamilton into his cabinet than Jefferson, along with his henchman Madison, began to form a faction to combat Hamilton and the Federalist program. Dirty tricks, paid journalists, and exploiting the nation’s first sex scandal were all part of Jefferson’s tactics, while he appeared to keep himself above the fray. It was neatly done. The organization he built up took him to the White House in 1800, in probably the dirtiest election this country has ever seen. The Federalists got just as down and dirty as the Democratic Republicans, but their time had already past.

    My points are that whether you or I like any particular outcome or not (war in Iraq, ObamaCare, teradollar deficits, you name it), this is exactly how this country was designed to work., and a compromise that leaves all parties more or less equally dissatisfied is probably a sign that it is as fair an outcome as can be yielded by, or expected in, our system. Speaking of the founding fathers, perhaps the first great compromise in the country’s history was when Jefferson and Hamilton agreed (over a dinner) to make a deal: Hamilton got Jefferson and Madison to support his plan to have the federal government assume responsibility for the states’ Revolutionary War debts, and Hamilton supported moving the capital south to what became Washington, DC. Their respective followers were none too happy, but the dealmakers realized this was the best deal they could get.

  2. Joanie says:

    I don’t have Uncle Paul’s exceptional knowledge of history, so my comments are more about my experiences with government, politics and our culture in general, and how less than effectivfe policies have impacted family members, and me personally. From what I’ve observed, trickle down economics doesn’t work well, or at least it’s failing now. Sorry, but we should be taxing the people who can most afford it, instead of overburdening the middle class (what’s left of it, that is) and hoping the poorest segment of society will somehow solve its own problems (or disappear). The gap between rich & poor is growing, and the middle class is shrinking – something’s wrong with this picture. When you consider the extreme wealth that’s concentrated in the privileged few, it’s almost obscene. I may be making this up, but it seems a few billionaires could provide a year’s worth of food for the homeless in America and still feed a small foreign country, too. Yes, some of the super rich are making an effort to improve conditions in America and globally (e.g., Bill & Melinda Gates, although you have to wonder how vaccinating the poor children in India is really benefitting them in the long run – what kind of life is ahead for them if they survive? No education, no jobs, no food, no future…).

    Our kids and grandchildren will most likely be less successful than we are, the first time this has happened since (?) And we’ve also managed to burden them with a number of complex and potentially irresolvable problems, such as how to avoid further destruction of the planet, assuming it’s not too late already.

    As for the cutbacks to education, social security & other social programs, I agree it’s quite short-sighted and will likely come back to haunt us in the end. I’m not sure what the best solution is, and I agree that throwing money on social problems isn’t always the right one. However, I can personally attest to the importance of social security, for example. Nana would have been impoverished in retirement, if not for her monthly social security check. After 17 years of marriage, she was divorced and had no way to support herself, a victim of the culture and times (women didn’t need to work outside the home or be educated beyond high school, because “some man” would take care of them, plus white men got all the decent-paying jobs in those days, anyway). Considering dear old dad didn’t pay the paltry child support he was “required” to pay (yet he lived in a veritable mansion with the wicked stepmother/second wife), it was a tough time for us for many years – no money and lots of bills to pay. Well, Nana did return to work, albeit at low-paying jobs, after refreshing her secretarial skills, and worked until almost 70 years of age. Despite working for a large company for the last 20 years of her working life, she didn’t have a pension. To make a very long story short, Nana would have subsisted on less than $200/month without the benefit of social security. Multiply Nana’s situation by thousands of others in similar scenarios, and you have many thousands of destitute elderly people. Thank you, FDR, and thank you LBJ; Medicare was also a lifesaver for Nana. I know all of this since I manage Nana’s financial & medical affairs.

    One more rant before I go. The best antidote to poverty and ignorance is education, so cutting back there is not a good idea. Of course, the system is totally messed up, at least in NYS. Urban schools and suburban schools are in no way equal; we need to change the way money is allocated for education, so it’s not connected to property taxes (expensive property owned = good schools). NC has a somewhat better system – we pay a combined school/property tax to the county, which covers all schools in the county, not a specific town/ municipality. And taxes there are much lower than in NYS. In my opinion, money is managed much better in NC than in NYS.

    Obviously, the economies of scale topic is a hot button topic – it certainly opened the flood gates for me!

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